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Monday, December 19, 2005

'L' is for 'Layers'

Today was day one of Dreamweaver training in Glasgow. I must say I have been looking forward to this immensely. The pace of the training has been brilliant, and I have had so much of what I know reassuringly affirmed. It’s always a bit of a worry when you are self taught with the help of numerous sites and books that you may not actually have been right, but today has confirmed that in the vast majority of instances with Dreamweaver I was heading in the right direction.

Layers in Dreamweaver have now taken on a whole new meaning for me. I now know how to add interactivity on a whole new scale simply and efficiently.

A couple of months ago I wrote that ‘D’ stands for ‘Dreamweaver’. I couldn’t have been more wrong. ‘D’ stands for ‘Design’. If anything, I am now even more convinced that creating a website happens on huge bits of paper and magic markers. Once this has been drawn out, the next stop is a graphics program to create the graphics, buttons and optimise the photos for the website. Dreamweaver? All it does is shuffle your content. A website stands or falls on its content. But what makes a site visitor stay on a website? Design. Usability. Functionality. If you haven’t thought this through, you are wasting your time.

So get out your paper and pens. What sections are you going to have in your website? What links to what? What is your colour scheme? What font, size and colour will you use for text? What proportion of your web pages will be taken up by your corporate logo and banner? Where exactly is your site-wide navigation? Where exactly will you place the section navigation? Have you created your site folder structure? Have you created and optimised all your graphics, pictures, buttons and roll-over images? Have you collated all your text for the site? You have? Brilliant. Now you can launch Dreamweaver. And do you know something? If you’ve done all that list, you’ll find the Dreamweaver bit much easier than you thought.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Until today...

...did I really say from here on it's progress? How naïve!

Breeze presenter no problem. Breeze meeting? How were any of us to know that some of our routers automatically drop multicasting packets?

If this wasn't so pathetic (in the true sense of the word) I'd be laughing...

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good things come to those who wait

Almost 15 months to the day and Breeze was installed on a server in Argyll & Bute today. From here on in it’s progress…

Friday, December 09, 2005

...but aim high

Day two in Port Charlotte. Thanks to the Head Teacher and her staff for putting up with me for two days! It seems endemic in Argyll & Bute or perhaps education in general that we hang on to technology until it quite literally doesn’t work anymore. How many classrooms have machines in them that are more than 4 years old? I suspect that vast majority. 4 years was the age used when the government had ratio targets for computers in classrooms. They have now scrapped these. I wonder what that says.

We need to audit how effectively we use ICT in the classroom. We also need to share good practice and give credit where credit is due. Today the P6&7 were learning how to do reports to a video camera. Keep up the good work! Notice how motivated the kids were and more importantly how many strands what they were learning achieved? We need to keep thinking outside of the forward planning/paperwork box.

Surprise, surprise… the flight was late back. I missed going into the hospital to visit my sister and new niece! (Got there on Saturday though…)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Start small...

After two rescheduled attempts I finally made it to Port Charlotte Primary on Islay today. It was great to have discussions during the day with the staff about the use of ICT they are making. It was great to speak with them about how they could make further use of technology. I occupy the curious position of being able to make recommendations to staff that already know what they could do, and so many of my suggestions are quite simple. I hope staff find this encouraging. The best use of ICT is most often the simplest of things.

We need to make greater use of email – email the class next door. Email an equivalent class in a nearby school. The kids will love to do it, and they will love to check for responses! Write about anything in the email – what you have been working on, what you have learnt, what you are going to do. Ask questions – how about setting some maths problems to another class?

Use a computer to illustrate – the web is full of information and images. Show some examples of what you are talking about. Get hold of a data projector. I would argue that a projector and a computer is of more value in a classroom than two computers.

Check before making – the web is becoming increasingly populated with content, so chances are another teacher has not only taught the lesson you are about to do, but they have made a resource and posted it online. I would rather waste 20 minutes searching and possibly finding nothing than wasting an hour preparing something that I didn’t need to.

Learn how to use bookmarks and record the sites you find useful. The BBC is commissioned to produce 50% of the curriculum which has begun to appear online already.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Change is better than a rest

Most of today was quite depressing, when this should be one of the days in any year for me to be the exact opposite. Why depressing? Without ‘Pathfinder’, the SSDN is going to pass Argyll & Bute by. Without bandwidth, we will never be able to make the most out of the digital network. What makes this depressing is that only the politicians can change this, and with independent agendas I don’t see this happening locally.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Does anyone really know what the SSDN is?

Today began a marathon session that would begin with a trip to Stirling, weave through a birthday and end with my becoming an uncle again, so for those of you that do check my blog on a regular basis will now realise why these 6 posting appear at once!

The day began with a trip to Stirling Management Centre for two meetings – the NQ Online Focus Group and then the SICTDG SSDN Summit. We have been doing quite a lot of work with the Development Officers at LTS concerning our subject development days and promoting the use of the NQ online website, so it was nice to have positive things to contribute to the NQ meeting. After lunch, we were given a presentation by John Connell about the SSDN, and it was great to have his input in the meeting. Nice also to put a face to a name, as for all the meetings that I have attended about the SSDN, this was the first time I had met him. For the first time today I considered the importance the SSDN will have for FE colleges. This will come back to haunt Scottish education I’m sure. What also for the independent sector?

Out of one meeting and into another. On my arrival in the SICTDG SSDN summit I was given the role of reporting back for my group – gee thanks pals! I’m not going to take credit for this one, but Robert from Shetland made the best point – look at the publicity that ACE has been given, and compare that to SSDN – if it is such an important initiative, why do those at the chalkface know nothing about it?